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my iToy

Wednesday,  01/02/08  12:59 AM

So Aperio had a good year, and celebrated by gifting each employee a spiffy new iPod touch.  To say they have been well received would be an understatement.  Right out of the box the iPod Touch is an amazing little device, with some great capabilities; I've enjoyed my little iToy quite a bit, and spent the New Year's weekend watching football and figuring out how to display big digital slides on an iPod touch, under Safari.  (More on that if I ever get it to work :)

However did you know you can install third-party applications on it?  Yes indeed!  This helpful article explains how to do it – you end up with a fully functional iPod Touch which is also a computer with a new application called Installer, from which you can install various third-party applications.  There’re a ton of games, utilities to change the look and feel, a word processor, a spreadsheet, graphics editors – you name it.  There’s even an eBook reader and various eBooks available – including the Bible, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and Godel, Escher Bach.  (Heck, there’s even the apache webserver – yes, you can actually run a website from your iPod touch!)  My favorites so far are Summerboard (which modifies Springboard, the iPod’s launcher), Mobile RSS, and iRadio, which lets you listen to Internet radio stations!  The instructions are mildly technical and the whole process takes about an hour.

The term for modifying your iPhone / iPod in this way is called “jailbreaking”; a reference to the fact that as the device comes from Apple it is closed, or “in jail”, and by making these changes you make the device open, by “breaking it out of jail”.

Here’s what mine looks like right now:

Ole's iToy - a spiffy iPod Touch

Of course you don’t have to do anything – you can just enjoy it unmodified as a wonderful little device.  But what would be the fun of that?

 

Yahoo + Flickr = fail

Wednesday,  01/02/08  01:13 AM

So Yahoo bought Flickr.  These acquisitions are usually great for shareholders, sometimes great for employees, and rarely great for users.  In fact, this is what not taking care of the customer looks like:

Yahoo + Flickr = fail

Isn't that special?  Here's what's really going on; Yahoo bought Flickr, they tried to merge the authentication systems (for marketing reasons), and didn't think through all the possibilities.  I am not trying to create a new account, I am not trying to access a Flickr account, I am simply trying to display an image.  And if they think I am going to do anything at all to figure this out or fix it, they are mistaken.  Kiss this user goodbye!

P.S the "= fail" is shamelessly stolen from uncov, one of my new favorite blogs, which irreverrently skewers startups that do stuff like this with the simple exclamation: fail.

 

Wednesday,  01/02/08  08:30 PM

Wow, the first day back to reality.  The New Year has started.  All the Christmas decorations are put away, the garland is thrown out, the tree is dragged to the curb.  The lights are taken off the house (and it is windy - of course - maximizing my annual chance to kill myself by falling off the top of a 25' ladder).  Sad, yet somehow invigorating.  What will the new year bring?

One thing the new year always brings is retrospectives on the old year.  And with the web and blogs, everyone gets their two cents in...  you'd think we never had a year before :)  Earlier I mentioned a few of the high points in tech, and the low point (Vista), but I should also have mentioned the tech enigma of the year, which is Twitter.  Do you twitter?  Do you know what it is?  Do you care?  My answers are no, sort of, and kind of.  So many people think it is important, that I think it should be important, but I can't figure out why or if it actually is.  An enigma to be sure.  If you can shed light on this, please do.

the rare long-whiskered owletNational Geographic: Top ten photos of 2007.  Way cool.  My favorite is the cute little rare long-whiskered owlet at right, although the crocodile with the veterinarians hand in his mouth is pretty amazing.  (Even more amazing, the hand was reattached successfully!)

Macworld in two weeksAs you know, if you're a Macist or simply a nerd, Macworld takes place in two weeks.  This is our biannual chance to guess what Mr. Jobs has in store for the world (pun intended), and to appreciate superior demomanship.  The 'net is alive with the sounds of speculation including new teeny Macbooks with iPhoneular screens (and touchpads) and of course the breathlessly-awaited third-party developer API for the iPhone.  And there are other angles: Fortune discusses How to cash in on the Macworld keynote effect.

Malcom Gladwell is one of my favorite authors (Tipping Point, Blink), and a blogger, and he recently he wrote an article for The New Yorker about IQ and Race: None of the Above.  He works hard to discredit IQ scores - leaning on the Flynn effect, for example - and makes some progress.  The article wasn't accurate in all respects however, as Steve Sailer notes; in particular he completely missed the point of The Bell Curve, by Murray and Hernstein, that measured IQ correlates to many things.  Why is it, when discussing The Bell Curve so many people fail to simply read the book?  It's a good book, and even if you don't agree with all or any of it you should at least read it before criticizing...

So oil has hit $100 / barrel.  [ via TTAC ]  Is this peak oil in action?  "Ira Eckstein, president of Area International Trading Corporation, says you ain't seen nothin' yet: 'This market is really gonna fly.'"  At some point this is going to reduce consumption and increase incentives for alternate energy sources, both good things, but in the short term this is going to make everything more expensive and slow the economy, both bad things.  Stay tuned.

Is it just me, or is spam getting worse and worse?  Yeah, I didn't think it was just me.  Computers keep getting faster, network bandwidth keeps increasing, and software gets smarter, but it is hard to think that this is sustainable.  I could get 5X the amount of spam I get now and probably nothing bad would happen.  (I get around 750 spams per day.)  Maybe 10X, but that would be pushing it.  Certainly 100X the spam would cause problems; at that point it seems likely my entire computing infrastructure would be doing nothing but filtering spam.  And what about 1,000X?  Yet there seems nothing to prevent spam from increasing without limit, since the marginal cost of sending it is [essentially] zero.  I don't know the answer, but whoever finds it will make $big.

 

me and Fred Thompson

Wednesday,  01/02/08  08:52 PM

I haven't found any candidates I like for President yet, but on the eve of the Iowa caucuses I'm shopping.  Glenn Reynolds linked to this video from Fred Thompson:

I watched it, and I must say I liked it.  Not only what he said, but how he said it, and that he said it; a 15 minute video like this tells me a lot more than a 60 second attack ad.  (That means you, John McCain, your negativity is showing...)

Maybe he's really a Reagan conservative, or maybe he just wants to look like one :)

Coincidentally I found Glassboth on Digg.  This is a little website that asks you what you think is important, and then asks you some "position" questions, and suggests the candidates you will like (from both parties).  In my case, the best fit was - ta da - Fred Thompson, followed closely by John McCain.  (I guess I've become a Republican!)  Here are the results:

Glassbooth: me and Fred Thompson

The biggest difference we have is over immigration.  I strongly oppose a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, while Fred "opposes blanket amnesty programs, but [is] willing to consider allowing some illegal immigrants to earn citizenship without being unfair to those here legally."  That sounds far apart, but I suspect we aren't really; earning citizenship is fine with me, too, as long as it takes more than showing up to earn it.  My parents came to the U.S. from The Netherlands and earned their citizenship, and so I'm from Missouri on this one.

Related: Powerline reports No Buses Necessary.  "A prominent canard in the debate over illegal immigration is the claim that, should we begin to enforce our immigration laws, we would be faced with the prospect of deporting 10 million or more illegals--an impossible logistical task, according to many pro-illegal immigration commentators.  The conservative response has always been that no such deportation would be necessary; that if we enforced our laws, illegals would return across the border the same way they came."  Absolutely.

Anyway it looks like maybe I'm a Fred Thompson supporter.  I'll continue to monitor; it should be an interesting election...

 
 

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